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5,000 books reportedly thrown out in Occupy Wall Street raid

November 15, 2011 |  9:09 am

Ows_library
More than 5,000 books in the Occupy Wall Street library were reportedly thrown away when police moved in to remove protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York early Tuesday.

During the police raid, Occupy Wall Street librarians tweeted, "NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history," Galleycat reports. "Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them? … Call 311 or 212-639-9675 now and ask why Mayor Bloomberg is throwing the 5,554 books from our library into a dumpster."

The Village Voice has asked city officials what happened to the library books, but has not yet recieved a response.

"I watched the stuff thrown into sanitation trucks and just crushed," Lopi LaRoe, a 47-year-old Brooklyn artist, told a reporter. 

The library, which started out as a box of books and grew to a collection of more than 5,000, was originally out in the open air. Rocker, poet and National Book Award winner Patti Smith donated a tent to house the library and protect the books from the weather.

It had hosted readings by authors including Douglas Rushkoff, Jonathan Lethem (along with a quiet but curious Jennifer Egan) and Lynn Nottage; on Friday, a group of volunteers read Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street."

According to the Associated Press, hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park, evicting protesters who have been camping out in the Wall Street park since mid-September to call attention to economic inequities and the distribution of wealth. The New York Times reports that 200 were arrested.

Initial reports suggest that the park's occupants were told they would be able to reclaim their items the next day. "But it could be argued that city authorities have junked much that once made up Occupy Wall Street," Time magazine reported. "Perhaps most tragically, Occupy Wall Street's roughly five thousand-volume strong People's Library, compiled through myriad donations and painstakingly catalogued by Occupy volunteers, was reportedly thrown out."

A judge has signed an order allowing protesters to return to Zuccotti Park with their belongings; further court action is expected Tuesday.

What that means for the books, no one yet knows.

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The Occupy Wall Street library on Oct. 10. Credit: Andrew Burton / Associated Press

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